Doesn't this seem extremely unnecessary? Hedwig is an Wizarding Owl, she can fly and can travel wherever needed with minimal instruction. Hedwig in particular is very loyal and intelligent. There are more than a few examples where Hedwig isn't confined to a cage while Harry travels and there is no problem. They let her out to fly in CoS when The Weasley brothers rescue Harry with the flying car. She finds Harry in The Leaky Cauldron in PoA without any instruction, she even found her way into the Black house while it was under a Fidelius Charm. She will find her way to her needed destination without being bodily packaged and trundled there.

Of course it's not just Harry, all students seem to force their owls into cages in order to travel with them. Apparently for no good reason.

One proffered reason for Hogwarts students needing to do this would be because of the protections from outside interference that are placed on the school, but I'd argue that's nonsense. Wizarding owls flock to Hogwarts every morning, and sometimes at other times, to deliver mail. They seem to be one of the few creatures with almost uninhibited access to Hogwarts (except for them being searched regularly in OotP).

The movies usually make poor changes to the story in order to fit things into a film script, but occasionally they change something for the better. It's one of the great changes in the Harry Potter movies when Hedwig-

gets to sacrifice herself to protect Harry instead of the extremely undignified and helpless end in the book.

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    I mean, its not very common to have an owl in a train station, and if you do it should be in a cage... also you probably shouldn't have 50+ owls loose on the train, being trained birds doesn't mean they wont poop all over the train.
    – Himarm
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:23
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    @Himarm Though the students could always just 'post' the owls to the school on their own. Do they really need to be on the train to get to Hogwarts?
    – Shisa
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:24
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    @Himarm That story-events are story-convenient is pretty evident! :) Just "thinking out loud" about the logic of the events, in the spirit of SE and the question itself. One could say, Harry's friendship/care for Hedwig should have made him even more reluctant to cage her as opposed to letting her fly free, just so they could sit next to each other for a few hours on the train, which he's going to spend talking to his human friends anyway!
    – Shisa
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:36
  • Unfortunately, I agree its probably just for the amusement created in the story that it is done, but especially later in the books it just seems more and more unnecessary and a little cruel. I personally think that PoA should have been a turning point when Harry realizes that Hedwig can travel on her own. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:41
  • Well i dont have a quote, but i seem to remember Harry feeling bad about locking her up for the trip, and i think Hedwig herself even "looks reproachfully" at Harry, but Harry says something along the lines of you know we have to.
    – Himarm
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:53

2 Answers 2


Maybe it is a rule or somethingelse.

  • Maybe Hogwarts searches peoples baggage. And you must have all of your belongings there so that it can be magically registered.

  • Maybe Hedwig can't fly that far in a couple of hours and so it would be better for her to just ride with him.

  • Maybe it is just a rule made by the ministry to stop owls from flooding the air. Muggles would notice if a bunch of owls were flying across England. If one person is allowed to let his owl fly then everybody would be allowed and there would be possibly hundreds of owls flooding the skies.

This was a response to this qoute in particular.

Of course it's not just Harry, all students seem to force their owls into cages in order to travel with them. Apparently for no good reason.

Also, if he travels with her he knows where she is there immediately and not wondering if she got hurt along the way.

These are my other theories(since I don't have my books with me and I don't remember a answer in them):

Ease of access

If you keep your owl in a cage, you know where it is most of the time and can access it to send a message when you need to.

Not to spook muggles out

Muggles aren't suppose to know about the wizarding world. If you have a bunch of owls flying around the muggles might start to spook out like they did in the first book when all of the owls were flying around and sitting around the Privet Drive house. Remember students are allowed to do magic.

To keep her safe

People know Hedwig is Harry's owl and she was attacked before, he might keep her in the cage so that she won't attacked or stolen by anyone(his enemies), until he got to somewhere safer.

Also from the wikia:

While living with the Dursleys, Hedwig was locked in her cage for months at a time to prevent Harry from sending messages to his "freaky little friends."

So it wasn't really him doing it all the time.

During 1995, she was attacked by associates of Dolores Umbridge when Umbridge tried to intercept Harry's mail, requiring Dobby and Professor Grubby-Plank to nurse her back to health.

He might of wanted to keep her safe.

Snowy Owls are not native to Great Britain, and this caused some inconvenience, as she could not always perform tasks for Harry.

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    Unfortunately the stuff about muggles noticing the owls doesn't test out. Other than the student's trip to school, Hedwig and other owls routinely travel and behave the way you explain regularly. Other than in the summer in CoS, Hedwig is free to hunt nightly from Privet drive and all year from Hogwarts and hundreds of owls fly from LOndon and other parts of England to the school every morning. And really, if we're talking about the appearance of abnormality to muggles- there's not much more odd than hundreds of children traveling with caged owls in a busy train station. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 18:43
  • @NonsuchNed it was just a theory and I put more stock into it being a rule of the ministry.
    – Pobrecita
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 18:45
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    I like the ideas about wanting to keep owls handy for their possible usage though... of course, they'd have to realize that usage. "Why didn't you send us a letter by owl? I believe you have an owl?" Professor McGonagall said coldly to Harry. Harry gaped at her. Now she said it, that seemed the obvious thing to have done. "I - I didn't think -" "That," said Professor McGonagall, "is obvious." Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 18:48
  • I know what the quote actually means, but I'm still going to let myself believe that Umbridge had to be nursed back to health after trying to mess with Hedwig.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 19:00
  • @iliveunderawesomerock, the problem with it being a rule of the Ministry is that Harry does it at other times as well. It's the only definitive way he packs in preparation before being picked up by Dumbledore in HBP, and also when fleeing Privet Drive in TDH. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 21:42

IIRC the only time Harry 'has to' cage Hedwig is before they are traveling on the Hogwarts' Express when in view of muggles. This would be required so as not to raise suspicion from muggles while getting onto platform 9 3/4. Muggles don't know that the owl is magic and is much more 'trained' than they could imagine. Therefore, they would expect to see it caged in order to travel on a train just like any other pet (e.g. a dog).

Presumably once on the train Harry could let Hedwig out and allow her to fly along with the train for some time (and I could be making it up but I thought he did just that in one of the books). There are examples of students having their pets out of cages on the train (I'm thinking Trevor the toad and Scabbers), so it doesn't seem to be unheard of. The rest of the time Hedwig is probably sleeping in the cage content with not having to fly the journey on her own.

If the question is actually why does he cage Hedwig for the Hogwarts Journey instead of just sending her to fly the journey on her own; I think that's a personal choice, not out of necessity.

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